1. How do I know I am covered by TUGSA?
  2. Is my award letter my contract?
  3. Does my health insurance also include prescription, vision and dental coverage?
  4. Why should I pay dues?
  5. Why is TUGSA affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)?
  6. What is the Academic Benefit?
  7. I’m an international student. How does a graduate employee union affect me?
  8. How do I get my 15% Temple bookstore discount?

How do I know I am covered by TUGSA?

According to the bargaining unit definition, if you are hired as a teaching assistant or a research assistant (who does not declare academic benefit), then you are considered a part of the TUGSA bargaining unit. As a TUGSA bargaining unit member, the terms and conditions of your employment are set forth in the TUGSA contract. You are also afforded all the rights and privileges given to public employees protected under a collective bargaining agreement in the state of Pennsylvania. Within 30 days of each semester, the University must send TUGSA a bargaining unit list. In order to find out or verify that you are on this list, call the TUGSA office at 215-587-6786. Being covered under the TUGSA collective bargaining agreement does not automatically mean that you are a TUGSA member. In order to be a TUGSA member, you must complete a TUGSA membership and dues authorization form, which you can do HERE.

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Is my award letter my contract?

Yes, your award letter is essentially an employment offer. The TUGSA contract covers what rights you have after you become an employee.

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Does my health insurance also include prescription, vision and dental coverage?

Yes, all three IBX plans include prescription, vision and dental riders which are included in the insurance premium price. However, two of these plans are for pediatric dental and vision only. You are strongly encouraged to visit the University’s Human Resources website to determine what costs you may/may not incur for using these services as they depend on the type of plan you choose. Information regarding plan specifics can  ACCESSED HERE.

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Why should I pay dues?

The benefits that the TUGSA contract outlines do not just magically happen. They have to be negotiated with University administration through a lengthy process that involves paying legal fees. In addition, union dues are used to cover administrative costs such as paying for affiliation with TUGSA’s parent union, the American Federation of Teachers, office space rental and promotional materials such as this website. No dues go to pay for the work done daily by TUGSA officers and activists. TUGSA union dues are set by TUGSA members. The current dues are currently set at 1.65%. Dues are deducted monthly and generally range from $35-40 per month, depending on your compensation. If you would like to sign up now, CLICK HERE.

Consistent with the Constitution of the AFT, local unions establish dues structures that ensure that the majority of dues income stays with the local so that it can maintain its financial autonomy. When you consider the benefits of unionization with regard to income, health insurance, workload, and fairness, union dues don’t cost – they pay.

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Why is TUGSA affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)?

The American Federation of Teachers is the largest union of graduate employees and higher education faculty in the United States. The AFT assists TUGSA with legal advice and funding, as well as helping with organizing, negotiating, research, professional development, and lobbying. The state affiliate of the AFT, the Pennsylvania Federation of Teachers (PFT), has provided critical support of our organizing efforts and has helped us to thwart Temple administration’s efforts to deny us our rights to organize and bargain.

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What is the Academic Benefit?

The idea of academic benefit applies to research assistantships. If your research yields direct academic benefit to you (i.e. you receive course credit, a grade or the research is part of your master thesis/doctoral dissertation work), then your research assistantship is not covered under the TUGSA contract. As such, the University requires all newly appointed research assistants to complete the “Declaration of Academic Benefit” form in order to determine whether or not they intend to receive academic benefit as a result of their appointment.

With that said, know that even though research assistantships that derive academic benefit are not formally part of the bargaining unit, it has been our experience that the University offers the same level of compensation and benefits to these individuals as it does to the TUGSA bargaining unit. Thus, what happens at TUGSA impacts you! While you may not be able to become a formal dues-paying member, show your support by becoming an ASSOCIATE MEMBER.

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I’m an international student. How does a graduate employee union affect me?

F-1 student visas allow international students to work at a university whether or not it is unionized. International students enjoy the same protections and rights as all other students. U.S. law protects the rights of all employees to vote for and join a union and those rights apply just as much to international students as anyone else. It is against the law for either the university or the INS to discriminate against international students because of membership or participation in a union.

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How do I get my 15% Temple bookstore discount?

The bookstore has a list of TAs and RAs. When you reach the counter to make your purchase, you should identify yourself as a graduate assistant, give your name, present your ID if you are asked for it, and the clerk will check your name against the list.  You should then receive the discount.

Please let us know if you encounter any difficulties in receiving your discount by contacting our office at 215-587-6786 or at union@tugsa.org.

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